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Self-improvement can be explained as personal development acquired from hard work and experiences of the past. It calls for self direction and determination. An individual should set goals for his/her life and then draw plans on how to achieve those objectives. The improvement can be evaluated by the individuals’ achievements over a certain period of time. A role model is an icon that is highly respected and valued in a given society for his/her exemplary work that is based on morals and ethics. The individual’s achievements inspire other people to follow the role model’s behavior, actions, or even lifestyle since they want to become exceptional individuals in the society as well. Franklin Benjamin presents his autobiography in a way that shows an excellent self-improvement that earns him the credit of being a role model.
Franklin was born in a humble family that could not be said to be financially stable. The business ran by the family members, his father and brothers, earned little capital, though enough to sustain the family. The father had his own small business, and he wanted his sons to continue his business activities. However, Franklin did not like the father’s business of cutting wick and candle molding. Instead, he decided to go his own way and started working in the printing business. This rather daring at that time choice to follow his own interests made Franklin a reputable person in the society later on. In his autobiography, he mentions that he “emerged from poverty and obscurity to a state of affluence and some degree of reputation in the word” (Franklin 3).
Several points in the autobiography illustrate the idea of self-improvement in his life cycle. In his early years, he developed an interest of reading books of varied kinds. He started with reading books in his father’s library, and then he used his savings and borrowed money from others to purchase books (Franklin 12). People realized that Franklin had an interest in reading books; thus, some of them offered him to take books from their libraries. Once he was fluent in reading and writing, Franklin decided to try writing articles in the newspaper produced by his brother. However, his brother, James, would not allow him to write for his newspaper at that age (he was 15 at that time); therefore, he decided to do it anonymously. He came up with an idea of writing under pseudonym, until when he received complements about his writings. This is an indication of self-improvement. Although he was not able to receive a decent education at school, he embarked on self education through reading books, which allowed him to write quite popular stories at such an early age.
During his early ages, his interest in the sea had earned him reputation and respect among his mates. They looked upon him in matters of critical decision-making. For instance, he was accorded the favor of leading the group while in the field. On page 9 of his autobiography, Franklin writes, ‘I was a leader among the boys’, (Franklin 9).
In the society, Franklin became prominent for helping individuals solve problems due to his increased knowledge acquired from reading varied books. This depicts him as a person devoted to helping others with his knowledge. Irrespective of their age, he was able to convince people due to his skilful positive argumentation and conflict management.
His ambition to become a writer was achieved thanks to his hard work and devotion to maintaining his vision in life. He managed to own a printing company in Philadelphia despite difficulties. It is through the writing that he was able to meet with prominent people such as Sir William Keith, who was a governor. William Keith helped Franklin to escalate higher in the business by offering financial support that boosted him to open book and stationary business (Franklin 87).
As he advanced in association with people in the society, he developed the ideas of the social welfare and public awareness. This prompted him to establish a club of "like minded” people “who hoped to improve themselves while they improved their community”(Franklin 89). His idea of public awareness was cultivated by his reading of the Bible and his political views. Commonness and authority influenced most of the ideals passed in the government and the community.
His views in the public matters earn him a post in the political arena, when he was credited as a deputy governor of Philadelphia in 1737 (Franklin 98). He also served as a clerk of the general assembly in 1736. This position allowed him to interact with many people and learn more on the association and the flow of power among the leaders. He was shocked by the discrimination and the way how decisions were handled in the leadership. Franklin always strived to serve for "the good of the people". For instance, he refused to patent his invention and on his initiative an academy was opened.
In conclusion, the autobiography of Franklin illustrates how owing to self-improvement and individual commitment, a boy from a humble background managed to become such a prominent public figure. All his achievements in life can be attributed to personal devotion and determination. Thus, Benjamin Franklin can be said to be an exemplary role model for all of us.